Dear Mom and Dad,
So, my first week of training is over. It was quite an adventure, and I´m excited both for the new area and to be helping Elder S, my new companion, to learn how to be a missionary.
But, everything in it´s proper order.
Bright and early Tuesday morning, I said goodbye to O´Higgins and went to the mission office in Viña with Elder M, who was also being transfered. After we got there I bounced around saying hi to everyone I knew, then met all of the other missionaries (6 other Elders and 4 Sisters) who were training. I went to lunch with a couple of them, then we had a meeting with the assistants where they talked about the responsability of training. The biggest point I got out of that was that, even more than the first few months of my mission, my biggest concern is absolutely not me. I need to be conserned for my investigators and for my trainy before ever thinking about myself, because the first few months in the mission are so important in a missionary´s development.
After that, we had about 3 hours until we were going to meet up with the new missionaries and see who our companions would be. We ended up playing basketball with someone who was over there shooting hoops--yes, in shirt and tie--and then playing foosball and pingpong after he left.
On the walk over to the mission home, where all the new missionaries had finished eating, everybody´s heart was pounding. I think that I was only slightly less nervous than the first time I went to the mission home, six months ago. We got there and sat down with president for a few minutes. Some of his words of wisdom: "No pressure. A trainer is the most important companion in the entire mission, but no pressure." Then we entered the yard where the other missionaries where waiting singing the mission hymn. There I found my "son," Elder S from Uruguay. He is the first in his family to serve a mission, a convert since age 11. He was captain of his high school team and worked for a few years as a model (my favorite story--he would go to parties and stand in the corner so that people could come up to him, say "wow, you´re a model!" and take pictures with him). He is incredibly excited to be working here now.
Opening a new area is interesting. For the first few days, we just kind of wandered around, looking for members and recent converts and talking to everybody we could in the streets.
To welcome us into the area, Elder R, the missionary who was already here when we got here, set up a fake lesson with a member of the ward. For an hour and a half we tried to figure out why in the world he was involving us in teaching the law of chastity to a man who had no idea what the Book of Mormon was, who had a daughter in the mission but wished she had kept studying instead of going to Argentina, and who interrupted us every thirty second when we were talking. Finally they admitted to being members, put the picture of the temple back on the wall, and we all laughed at how absolutely gullible we were. It was a moment to remember...
Finally, General Conference. I got to see four of the sessions in spanish, and priesthood session in english. I compared it mentally with the last time I saw conference, in the MTC--instead of being in a gigantic, stadium type room with thousands of other missionaries, watching on a big projector, I was in a small, out of the way side room with about 10 other missionaries, watching on a small church tv. It still felt like a very holy experience, like one of the moments that I´ll remember tangibly for quite some time.
The biggest point I got out of conference was the importance of seeking out our brothers and sisters who are members of the church, but who have fallen away for one reason or another. We are going to ask the bishop in this ward for a list of less-active members we can visit--I am excited to see the kind of miracles that God has in store for the people here in this ward, and that we will get to be a part of.
I love this gospel. I know it´s true. I know that I am in the right place, that God guides my steps, and I am so grateful for everything He has given me.
Viviendo el sueño,
Elder Jason Ray